City and Regional Planning

Master of City Planning (MCP) Requirements

for students entering Fall 2020**

The Master of City Planning degree requires completion of 18 course units, including course requirements from the core curriculum and one of six concentration areas. In addition, all students must complete a non-credit planning internship between the first and second years of study.


The MCP core curriculum encompasses the basic skills and knowledge required of all planners regardless of their specialization, and is a hallmark of our cutting-edge and practical approach to educating city planners. Students who complete the core will understand the legal and historical basis of city planning; they will know how to use a wide variety of population and economic data to understand local communities; and they will understand the form and arrangement of cities and metropolitan areas around the world. Most important, they will understand which planning approaches work best in which contexts and circumstances.

The core includes two hands-on opportunities for students to engage real planning problems in real communities for real clients. The first of these, CPLN 600 Workshop (Spring), offered to first-year students and is organized around producing a community plan for a Philadelphia-area city, town, or neighborhood. CPLN 700 Planning Studio (Fall), offered to second-year students, centers on a more advanced and specific planning challenge. It gives students the opportunity to scope out a planning problem for themselves, design the appropriate planning process, and then, pursue that process to its conclusion. Studio topics vary year to year, but at least one studio usually has an international or comparative focus.

Required Core Courses

Year 1 Fall

CPLN 500 Introduction to Planning History and Theory

CPLN 501 Quantitative Planning Analysis Methods

Year 1 Spring

CPLN 600 Workshop

Year 2 Fall

CPLN 700 Planning Studio

Year 2 Spring

CPLN 502 Urban and Infrastructure Finance

CPLN 509 Law and Urban Development

Students may choose to take the following core requirements whenever they best fit their schedule:

Spatial Analysis Requirement

CPLN 503 Modeling Geographic Objects (Fall) or an equivalent GIS course

Breadth Methods Requirement

MCP students take one (1) Breadth Methods course in the MCP Core Curriculum.  

Breadth methods courses aim to build students' skills in cross-cutting planning methods, meaning techniques of planning analysis and planning process that are relevant throughout the fields of planning and urban development, beyond individual areas of specialization. 

The Breadth Methods requirement helps students develop a higher level and/or wider range of skills beyond the Quantitative Methods (CPLN 501) and GIS (CPLN 503) requirements in the MCP Core and the methods training in their concentration. 

Students may take any of the courses listed below to fulfill the Breadth Methods requirement in the MCP Core.  Students may not count a class taken to fulfill a requirement in their concentration as fulfilling the Breadth Methods requirement in the MCP Core. 

CPLN 504 - Site Planning

CPLN 505 - Planning by Numbers or CPLN 671- Spatial Statistics and Data Analysis

CPLN 506 - Negotiation and Conflict Resolution

CPLN 530 - Introduction to Land Use Planning 

CPLN 540 - Introduction to Property Development 

CPLN 560 - Introduction to Graphics for Urban Design 

CPLN 627 - Social Impact Practice 

CPLN 675 - Land Use and Environmental Modeling 


Because a planning education extends beyond the classroom, all MCP students are required to complete a planning internship, usually between their first and second years. Internships may be paid or unpaid, but they must involve full-time work. Internships can be completed at any government agency or commission, private consulting firm, or non-profit or advocacy organization involved in planning practice, policy, or research.

Students may intern at a Philadelphia-based organization, such as the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, or Interface Studios.

Internships outside the Philadelphia region have included Nikken Sekkei in Tokyo; the New York City Department of Planning; or the Chicago Mayor's Fellowship.


The essence of good planning is making connections. To facilitate this, the Department of City & Regional Planning offers six concentrations which integrate knowledge across related specializations: (1) Community & Economic Development (2) Land Use-Environmental Planning (3) Public Private Development (4) Smart Cities (5) Sustainable Transportation and Infrastructure Planning and (6) Urban Design. Students are free to sample different concentrations during their first year, with the goal of selecting their final concentration/specialization before the start of their third semester. Although students may petition the faculty for individual course substitutions, all MCP students must complete coursework in one of our six concentrations. Click here to learn more about each concentration.

MCP Concentrations

Housing, Community and Economic Development (HCED)

The Community and Economic Development concentration focuses on how planners and policy leaders influence the social and economic factors shaping metropolitan economies and urban neighborhoods, particularly low-wealth communities and communities of color.   It prepares graduates for positions in housing, community and economic development finance, neighborhood revitalization, workforce development, center city re-development, and public sector management of urban and regional economic development. Housing, Community and Economic Development is a 4 credit concentration.

Faculty Advisors:

Francesca Ammon, Akira Drake RodriguezVincent Reina, Lisa ServonDomenic Vitiello

Required Courses

  • CPLN 520: Introduction to Housing, Community & Economic Development (Fall, First Year)
  • CPLN 720 HCED Practicum (Spring, Second Year)

Theory/Method Courses (students are required to take at least one, if a student takes more than one, the second course will fulfill an elective requirement below)

  • Community Development focus: CPLN 627: Social Impact in Practice
  • Economic Development focus: CPLN 620: Economic Development Techniques
  • Housing focus: CPLN 644: Housing Policy

 Concentration Electives (take at least one)

  • CPLN 621: Metropolitan Food Systems 
  • CPLN 624: Readings in Race, Place and Poverty
  • CPLN 628: Migration and Development
  • CPLN 642 Downtown Development
  • CPLN 687: Photography & the City
  • CPLN 582: Taste, Place, and Neighborhood
  • A related special topics courses (needs approval of advisor)

Land Use-Environmental Planning (LU-EP)

Land use and environmental planning are at the core of city planning, With the U.S. forecast to add 80+ million new residents over the next forty years (and the world forecast to add 3 billion), land use and environmental planners will have to figure out new ways to accommodate population and economic growth while strengthening existing cities and towns; preserving precious and irreplaceable farm and resource lands; promoting new urban forms such as transit-oriented and mixed-use development; taking advantage of new water, land, telecom, and transportation infrastructure systems; promoting clean air and water, and robust ecologies; and reducing the carbon footprint of cities and suburbs alike. Students who complete the Land Use and Environmental Planning concentration work for local and municipal governments, for land use and environmental planning consultants, for and regional growth management agencies, and for smart growth, land conservation, and sustainable development policy and advocacy organizations. Land Use and Environmental Planning is a 4 credit concentration.

Faculty Advisors:

Tom Daniels, Allison Lassiter

Required Courses

  • CPLN 530: Introduction to Land Use (Fall, First Year)
  • CPLN 531: Introduction to Environmental Planning (Spring, First Year)

Concentration electives (take at least two)

  • CPLN 504: Site Planning (Fall version)**
  • CPLN 630: Innovations in Growth Management
  • CPLN 631: Planning for Land Conservation
  • CPLN 635: Water Policy
  • CPLN 675: Land Use and Environmental Modeling
  • CPLN 730: Sustainable Cities

**Students choosing to take Site Planning for this requirement CAN NOT count it toward their Core Breadth Methods requirement

Public Private Development (PPD)

Students in the Public & Private Development Concentration will learn the planning, design, entrepreneurial, and financing principles of developing for-profit and community-oriented housing and commercial development projects; how to put together development proposals and plans that meet the needs of tenants, the marketplace, and the community; how to develop projects that are economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable; and how private developers can work in partnership with cities and towns, redevelopment agencies, non-profits, and community groups to create affordable housing and public-private development partnerships. These same skills and abilities will be widely valued outside the United States, especially in growing areas of Asia and South America. Public Private Development is a 4 credit concentration.

Faculty Advisor:

 Vincent Reina

Required Courses

  • CPLN 540: Introduction to Property Development (Fall, First Year)
  • CPLN 641: Progressive Development (Spring, First Year)
  • CPLN 642: Downtown Development (Fall, Second Year)

Concentration Electives (take at least one)

  • CPLN 504: Site Planning (Fall version)*
  • CPLN 643: Design & Development
  • CPLN 644: Housing Policy 
  • CPLN 620: Techniques of Urban Economic Development

* Students who take CPLN 504 to meet this elective CAN NOT use it to meet the Breadth Methods requirement.

Smart Cities

Today's combination of portable-yet-powerful computing and communication devices and Internet-accessible "big data" are democratizing all manner of urban planning and decision-making.  And in the process, transforming planners from central information gatekeepers into bottom-up enablers who are helping city dwellers take better advantage of the opportunities and richness of urban life.  By giving everyday people quick access to usable information, these new technologies are connecting planners, residents, businesses, and non-profits; and making them smarter and more productive.  The purpose of this concentration is to give MCP students the skills and abilities they will need to develop this new generation of planning applications that seamlessly combine user-friendly data retrieval and modeling procedures with individual and collaborative urban planning and design tools. Smart Cities is a 4 credit concentration.

Faculty Advisors:

Allison Lassiter

Required Courses

  • CPLN 592:  Public Policy Analytics (Fall, First Year, depending on GIS experience) *
  • CPLN 591:  Introduction to Smart Cities (Fall, First Year)
  • CPLN 505:  Planning by Numbers (Spring, First Year) or CPLN 671:  Spatial Statistics & Data Analysis (Fall, Second Year)* 

Electives (take at least one)

  • CPLN 571: Sensing the City
  • CPLN 670: Geo-spatial Software Design (Python)
  • CPLN 691: Java Programming for Planning and Urban Management
  • CPLN 672: Geospatial Data Science
  • CPLN 675:  Land Use & Environmental Modeling 

*Smart Cities students who take this course in place of CPLN 503 in the core must take an additional Smart Cities elective.

**Students who take CPLN 505 or CPLN 671 to meet this requirement CAN NOT use it to meet the Core Breadth Methods requirement.

Sustainable Transportation and Infrastructure Planning (STIP)

This concentration explores the roles of transportation and other capital infrastructure systems in shaping urban and metropolitan development patterns in the U.S. and around the world. It focuses foremost on urban highway, public transit, and non-motorized transportation systems and their connections to sustainable, livable and economically-productive development forms; and secondly on water, energy, and communications infrastructure. It covers initial planning and development topics (such as right-of-way and system planning issues), linkages to urban and economic development issues (such as those surrounding high-speed rail), and ongoing finance and management topics such as pricing, equity-of-access, and value-creation. Students who complete the Sustainable Transportation & Infrastructure Planning Concentration work for local and municipal governments, for state highway departments and metropolitan transit operators, for transportation and infrastructure planning consultants, for system developers and utilities, and for policy and planning organizations advocating more sustainable transportation and development choices. Sustainable Transportation & Infrastructure Planning is a 4 credit concentration.

Faculty Advisors:

Erick GuerraMegan Ryerson

Required Courses

  • CPLN 550: Introduction to Transportation Planning (Fall, First Year)
  • CPLN 505: Planning by Numbers (Spring, First Year)*
  • CPLN 650: Transportation Planning Methods (Fall, Second Year)

Concentration Electives (take at least one)

  • CPLN 655 Multi-modal Transportation
  • CPLN 750 Airport Systems Planning
  • Another STIP related elective as approved by your advisor

*Since CPLN 505 is required as part of the STIP requirements, students CAN NOT use it to fulfill the breadth methods requirement

Urban Design (UD)

Urban Design focuses on understanding the links between the physical form and structure of cities and regions and the economic, social and political forces that shape them. It provides knowledge about the alternative theories and methods for the physical improvement of urban places and includes courses in graphic communication, the history and theory of design, the context and operation of development incentives and controls. Graduates from the urban design specialization typically work in local government or for private design firms developing urban design plans, neighborhood and district plans, public space and street plans, and increasingly, plans for new communities. Urban Design is a 5 credit concentration.

Faculty Advisors: 

Zhongjie Lin, Marilyn Taylor

Required Courses

  • CPLN 660 Fundamentals of Urban Design Studio (Fall, First Year, 2cus)
  • CPLN 504 Site Planning (Spring, First Year)**
  • CPLN 760 Public Realm Studio (Spring, Second Year, 2 CUs)

** Students in the Urban Design Concentration CAN NOT take CPLN 504 to meet their Breadth Methods requirement.

Dual Degrees

Within Penn Design

Dual Degree–MCP/MLA
Master of City Planning and Master of Landscape Architecture

Dual Degree–MARCH/MCP
Master of Architecture and Master of City Planning

Dual Degree–MCP/MSHP
Master of City Planning and Master of Science in Historic Preservation

Dual Degree–MCP/MUSA
Master of City Planning and Master of Urban Spatial Analytics

Outside the Weitzman School

Master of City Planning/Master of Social Work

A joint degree is offered by the City Planning program in the School of Design and the School of Social Policy and Practice. The blended curriculum covers three years and may include one intervening summer. Students must take the required courses in each curriculum. Upon successful completion of the joint program, the student is awarded the degrees of Master of City Planning (MCP) and Master of Social Work (MSW)

Master of City Planning/Juris Doctor

The MCP/JD is a joint degree program sponsored by the Law School and the School of Design. The aim of the joint degree program is to train leaders who can blend the professional concerns of law and city and regional planning. This is a four-year program, plus one summer of office practice in the planning field. Students apply to each school independently through each program’s specified admission process.

In order for a student to receive both degrees, he or she must complete the independent degree requirements of each program. Law students must complete a minimum of 89 credits, 55 hours of which must be advanced credit completed in the second and third years of Law study. Students in the joint program may apply twelve semester hours (four courses) taken in the MCP program or elsewhere in the University while in their 2L and 3L years of the Law program toward that requirement, reducing their upper level credit requirement to 43 credits. These four courses are the total number of non-Law courses that a Law student can take in other departments of the University. Students must also satisfy the Law School’s pro bono requirement via the Public Service Program and fulfill senior writing and professional responsibility requirements (more on these requirements can be found in the Law Student Guide to Policy and Procedures).

Students must complete 15 course units for the Masters of City Planning (MCP) degree. Of these, nine course units are core requirements and must be taken in the MCP Program and 4-5 course units are courses taken in their area of concentration, selected from a list designated by the Department. Students are also required to complete four course units in the Law School selected in consultation with their Law School and MCP program advisors. Students may satisfy the elective requirements via City Planning related courses offered in the Law School. Electives must be approved in advance by the MCP Program Advisor.

Master of City Planning/Master of Business Administration

City and Regional Planning students have the option of simultaneously completing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the Wharton School. Applicants to the dual-degree program apply separately to the relevant department/program of the School of Design and to the MBA program of the Wharton School. Admission decisions are made independently by each department/program, and students may pursue a dual degree program only if admitted to both the School of Design and the Wharton School. Students already enrolled in the School of Design may apply to the Wharton School in the fall semester of their first year.

To satisfy the School of Design portion of the dual-degree program, students must take at least 25 course units in the architecture or landscape architecture departments or at least 15 course units in city planning or historic preservation. To satisfy the MBA portion of the dual-degree program, students must take at least 15 course units at the Wharton School. It is Wharton policy that courses taken at Wharton prior to admission may not be applied toward the degree requirements of the MBA program.

Dual degree students do one entire year at the School of Design, followed by one entire year at the Wharton School. In the case of City Planning, this would be followed by one year of a combination of Design and Wharton courses.